Reaction: The Giver

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Recently, a friend of mine had given me the book, “The Giver“, written by Lois Lowry, to read. I remember reading it in middle school, since it is a young adult book and I remember not really reading it, just reading it to get the correct answers on the test and move on to the next book.

Since I recently graduated from college, I finally had a night where I was not exhausted from a busy day. I made a cup of my tea and ‘dug in’ to the book.

For those who have not read the book, it is about a young boy, Jonas, who lives in a society where there is no pain, fear or war. Also in this society, you are assigned jobs and positions in life, which are given when the citizens of the society are a Twelve. At Jonas’ Ceremony of Twelve, he is given his assignment as The Receiver of Memory. He begins training with The Giver and Jonas learns through memories given to him by The Giver of what the society would be like if there were color, weather and emotion.

As I read the book, I began to felt the need to question why the world is the way it is today. Our world today, relies heavily on social media, which as we all know can be a good or a bad thing. Twitter tells us what is going on in the world, breaking news and sometimes what our friends are doing. It is those quick, “What’s happening?” that gets some people in trouble, look at Justine Sacco. In “The Giver” the citizens rely on The Committee to tell them what to think, do and say. Luckily we do not have this, but what if we did? How would The Committee handle Justine? What would happen if a brand had a Facebook campaign failure? Would the brand have to apologize to the citizens of the society?

Joan Blades visiting Millersville University

On Wednesday, Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn.org, MomsRising.org, author and founder of Living Room Conversations, held a conversation panel on Millersville University’s campus. 

I had the opportunity to help assist in preparing for Ms. Blades visit on the campus and it was a lot of work, but it was worth it in the end. (Isn’t it always?)

She began her presentation with a PowerPoint very briefly explaining her various endeavors such as a software company, Moveon.org, Momsrising.org and Living Room Conversations. When discussing Moveon.org, she said it began by one statement she and her husband wrote and sent to friends and family, which then got sent even further around and gained thousands of signatures of support to send to Congress. She also mentioned how “small donations” add up when a campaign is going on. She gave the example of the “We will remember” campaign in 2000 in which Moveon.org raised $2.3 million in donations.  Since 1998, there have been three viral movements and thousands of organizations using Moveon.org as an online empowerment.

Momsrising.org is a “back burner issue” has she called it. The organization is focused on maternity leave for mothers, equal salary and sick days. Joan Blades also brought a guest with her, Kiki Peppard who has made it her mission to pass a law in Pennsylvania so that interviewers can not ask a woman or a man if they are married or have kids because she feels that it hurts some individuals from getting a job.

Blades’ book, The Custom-Fit Workplace, is a guide to “choose when, where, and how to work with a family” because everyone “deserves a job that fits” their lifestyle. In the book she also discusses flexible and virtual workplaces, modern career tracks and how mother’s should be allowed to bring their babies to work if there is no child care available. Going along with the topic of the workplace, Blades also briefly discussed the “Formal Result Workplace” in which businesses such as Gap and the Girl Scouts of America, do not keep track of time, they just keep track of what they are getting done and the results that arise because of that.

Living Room Conversations started as six people discussing a topic such as war, politics and healthcare breaking bread together. Blades said “We live in self-segregated communities…[and]…participants find common ground when they felt heard and learned something about other’s views” during a Living Room Conversation. There are six ground rules to having a Living Room Conversation: be curious, show respect, look for common ground, be authentic, be purposeful and own and guide the conversation.

By having Ms. Blades on Millersville’s campus, I hope her presentation will encourage students and faculty to think about discussing issues that may not have any impact on our grades, but assist in learning knowledge in different ways.

I also had the opportunity to live tweet for my social media campaign’s class using the hashtag, #getsocialMU to encourage students on Millersville’s campus to participate more in social media topics. It was a fun experience to be able to tweet information from a guest speaker and I learned a lot about being able to communicate effective information to those who could not attend the event.

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I am personally glad Millersville University brought in Ms. Blades and I would encourage the university to be able to bring in more speakers like this.